Fans of the long-running Japanese manga series and anime Naruto are likely cringing as they read that headline. Hollywood does not have the best track record when it comes to adapting the culture, color, and craziness of anime; see The Guyver, Fist of the North Star, Dragonball: Evolution, and the beleaguered Akira adaptation. Honestly, they can’t even get most American action cartoon adaptations right: see The Last Airbender. (There’s a glimmer of hope for Rupert Sanders’ Ghost in the Shell adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson.) So while I don’t have the highest of hopes for a Naruto adaptation either coming to fruition or being any good if it does, Hollywood’s gears are still turning.
Variety reports that Lionsgate is in negotiations with Michael Gracey to direct the adaptation of writer-illustrator Masashi Kishimoto’s manga series about the titular boy ninja who dreams of become his village’s next leader, the Hokage. Avi Arad is attached to produce the picture and apparently has been interested in doing so for at least the last year. In an interview with Toyokeizai, Arad mentioned having plans to bring live-action versions of Ghost in the Shell and Naruto to Hollywood. The fact that Gracey, a former visual effects specialist who is attached to a variety of projects but has yet to actually direct any of them, is in negotiations for Naruto tells me that it won’t be getting made for a long, long time.
If you’re not familiar with Naruto and want to get caught up before a live-action movie makes its way into theaters, you’ve got the manga, literally hundreds of episodes of the anime, and ten animated movies to enjoy. Other upcoming Hollywood adaptations of Japanese anime include Adam Wingard’s Death Note, plus Bleach, and Robotech. You can also check out Japan’s own live-action adaptation of the poplar series Attack on Titan.
Are you a fan of Naruto in any of its current forms? Are you excited or depressed by news of a Hollywood live-action movie adaptation? Do you have a dream cast in mind? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!